How to baby-proof my computer?
April 11, 2005 8:55 PM   Subscribe

What's the best way to physically baby-proof my computer? Our 10-month old daughter is showing alarming signs of mobility, so we're baby-proofing our house. I really like having the family computer in the living room, but I have visions of my little girl doing chinups on my CD tray (or worse). We'll be watching her like a hawk, but she's already pretty quick and we'd like to limit the riskier possibilities.
posted by johnwilcox to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
As the parent of two cute, adorable computers, and a child, I have several recommendations:

* Use computer cord tubes to keep electrical leads safely tucked away.

* Be very careful if using an LCD screen, as they are not as balanced as the old monitors and can easily topple. Keep the monitor as far away from the edge as possible, and if possible find a way of securing the monitor to the desk.

* Buy a keyboard cover to protect your keyboard from spills, crumbs and chocolate.

* Enable the screen-saver with password protect to turn on when away from the computer for more than a minute, to stop valuable work ending up with "dslkhnaslkdjksaldhglkqsdjgs l3whgklwdhgwegdsdglksdanhgklszhdggadsg" inconveniently inserted.

* Use a guillotine to remove pesky arms and legs from your toddler, thereby ensuring a safe, immobile child.
posted by   at 9:17 PM on April 11, 2005

The solution my wife and I came up with was to put the desktop computer in a room that wasn't accessible to the kids, and to use a laptop as the everyday computer. Laptops are easily stowed away when not in use, and can be moved around whenever necessary. They may also of course be used without cords of any sort for brief periods of time.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:23 PM on April 11, 2005

First, block off access to cables with some sort of gate or hiding behind a desk that she can't get behind. Consider investing in some cable ties as well, so anything she has a chance of getting to is tied up and harder to yank.

Second, a computer case lock. My case came with a flimsy lock, nothing that'd stop a thief with a butter knife, but enough to stop a child from pushing ever-so-inviting buttons. These guys provide a number of PC locks that may help in securing the case as well as allowing you to anchor the tower/monitor if you want. Haven't tried their stuff out myself, just a promising result from a few Google searches. If that's too much for you, just look around for computer case locks or something similar.

Third, secure heavy stuff if possible. Put the main tower somewhere it can't be knocked over, such as a compartment large enough to give it a bit of air, but not large enough to topple over. Your monitor may be a difficult one, try to have it set near the back of a desk against the wall, preferably with partitions to its sides, for less easy access. This and/or anchoring should help give you some ease.

Fourth, place keyboard and mouse in a lockable drawer when not in use. If you use a keyboard and mouse with cords, the cords can be hazardous and an easy way to pull a keyboard on top of her. Wireless makes for easier storage. Be doubly careful of an optic mouse. Looking into that laser could cause some eye damage, and it's invitingly shiny.

Finally, if you're willing to put in a moderately pricey investment, look for a computer desk with as many compartments as possible lockable. The less computer equipment visible when not in use, the less interested a 10 month old is going to be. This will help a lot if you can get the power strip out of reach as well.

This may be overkill, so take and leave what parts you will. Good luck on keeping her out of trouble, that's a 10 month old's purpose in life.
posted by Saydur at 9:43 PM on April 11, 2005

When our son was that age we took an old keyboard we had lying around, clipped off the metal connector so he couldn't chew on it, and told him it was "his computer". He was happy to bang on keys, look at letters, and yank on the springy cord (with us watching).

Any buttons or lights (power switches on the computer, UPS, or power strip) need to be covered or hidden or made inaccessible. She will push them. Locks seem like overkill to me. Just taping over interesting buttons did the job for us. She'll soon be more interested in the home entertainment system anyway.
posted by ldenneau at 12:42 AM on April 12, 2005

We also have a computer in the living room and a 16 mo old daughter. We did three things:

* Use cable guides to tuck the cables away, and extension cord covers to keep little fingers from getting where they shouldn't.

* Made a small padded cover for the front of the case that attaches with velcro. She completely ignores it, and it is easy to take off when we need access to the CD Drive or such.

* We have a CRT monitor on a somewhat small table. To keep our daughter from pulling the monitor down on herself we used tension straps to secure the monitor to the table.
posted by Tallguy at 12:48 AM on April 12, 2005

I 2nd Idenneau - give them a 'toy' keyboard and tape or cover the buttons (there are simple cloth covers made with velcro rather than locks)

I've raised 3 sons around my pc's and the biggest problems were keyboard banging and button pushing. Distraction works wonders when they are under two, after that all hell breaks lose and nothing in your home will ever be safe again.
posted by LadyBonita at 12:52 AM on April 12, 2005

A few months ago, I saw something like this roll-top computer desk at Fred Meyers, except it looked better, and was no more expensive than a normal computer desk ($180-250ish, I can't remember).
posted by -harlequin- at 2:57 AM on April 12, 2005

I second the TOY keyboard. give them a spare, or just get a toy one. For the tower, there is a velcro cover that covers the whole front of the case. It has successfully defeated my 2 boys.
posted by quibx at 7:02 AM on April 12, 2005

My daughter could care less about the keyboard but is fascinated by my mouse. So I cut the cord on a old one I had hanging around to ~15cm (strangling hazard otherwise) and gave it to her. Not as good as dad's of course because it doesn't light up but it distracts her from the real thing at least part of the time. And yes definitely tape over any lit power buttons.
posted by Mitheral at 8:38 AM on April 12, 2005

I solved the problem by purchasing a small corner desk from IKEA and enclosing one side, on one side only...the back is open. I will take a picture and post a link...It was pretty simple, and I am no carpenter!
posted by Richat at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2005

John, here are a couple of pictures...I really am not that talented, but it did a really nice job of keeping little fingers out. Here is one and two.
posted by Richat at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2005

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